The SOS Card Project

A short history of The SOS Card Project

Gunnar Lindenblatt, the initiator of The SOS Card Project, recounts:

It all started with toothache somewhere in 2005.

I had already lived in China for several months. I learned, for example, that Chinese ATM provides English as well. Without any problems I could withdraw money from my credit card.

One day I woke up with toothache. I tried to ignore it. I tried to suppress it with a pain killer. In the end, I had to give in and went to see a dentist.

The female dentist I visited was very kind and could speak some English.

Yet this visit will always stick in my mind: trying to cope with English and Chinese (both not my mother tongues; I am German) I completely forgot to tell the dentist that Lidocaine doesn’t work for me!

~~~ How to say “Lidocaine doesn’t work for me” in Chinese? ~~~

Well, the dentist found out by herself1), and I left with a nicely filled tooth.

On the street, I saw an ATM again. Then I thought: “Why there is no international ‘health credit card’ which contains a summary of all important medical information?“

This health card

  • should contain all most important medical information.
  • English alone for sure is not enough, so it has to show these medical information in different languages.
  • It should not involve complicated technology.
  • Just make it as easy to use as possible.

I discussed this with my medical colleagues (I am a medical physicist) and my local and foreign friends in Hangzhou. What we came up with, you can see on the main page.

The SOS Card shows details to identify the card holder on the front side.

The reverse side gives a list of all important pre-existing conditions and the life supporting medication with it's general dose in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Thai, and Chinese.

Why in these languages?

English is the most popular language, but not necessarily spoken by all rescue workers. English mainly covers North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Chinese actually is the language with the most speakers in the world. The written language can also be understood by Japanese and Koreans.

Spanish is popular in South America and the south of Europe.

French we can find in Africa and central Europe.

With Russian, we cover the land bridge between East Europe and Asia.

And Thai language covers the south east part of Asia, covering Thailand, and its neighbours Laos, Cambodia, etc., up to the south of China.

The SOS card contains the most important medical information for rescuers and doctors. No fuzzy card reader, not even a computer is needed to access this information.

On the front side there is also an unique user name. Combined with a Card Validation Code, a kind of password, from the reverse side, medical personnel will be able to access a website in even more languages and with more detailed information, including

  • detailed information on medicine you take,
  • your general practitioner’s contacts,
  • people who should be informed when you are in need, the so-called ICE2) contacts.

From the fellowship in Hangzhou the idea spread quickly to other international fellowships in China and their Chinese partner churches, and was then taken to the respective home countries: Russia, Germany, France, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Great Britain, Australia… and from there often again to international churches, for example to the Spanish church in Germany and from there to South America. Meanwhile, the SOS Card is available worldwide; you can also issue your own SOS Cards in your community or club.

However, the SOS Card is designed in such a way that every medically trained person can understand it immediately and intuitively. Important only: You have your SOS Card with you!

For those who do not get it: It was most painful! The dentist switched to Novocaine.
In Case of Emergency